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RUTLAND HISTORICAL SOCIETY 

Quarterly 



Volumk 38 No. 3 



2008 



Building the Proctor 

Marble Bridge: 

Conflict and Controversy 




A covered bridge designed by Louis Wolcott was built across the Otter 
Creek in Sutherland Falls (Proctor) in 1841. It lasted until 1914-1915 
when the present Marble Bridge replaced it. The new bridge was a gift 
to the town from Emily J. Proctor. 



About the Author 

Mary H. Fregosi is a retired educator who lives in Proctor. Her 
study of the Vermont Marble Company Strike of 1935 - 1936 was the 
subject of the 2002 fall issue of the Quarterly (Vol. 32 No. 3). She has 
also contributed "A History of the Proctor Y.M.C.A. and the 
Sutherland Club" (Vol. 33 No. 1) and "When the F.B.I. Came To Town: 
One of Vermont's Mysteries" (Vol. 38 No. 2). Mary is a Proctor native 
and has been intrigued by many of the pieces of Proctor's rich history. 
She has also researched and written a history of the Proctor- 
Pittsford Country Club and a history of Proctor High School boys' 
basketball. 



Introduction 



It is not known when the Proctor family began discussions about 
funding a marble arched bridge across Otter Creek in memory of 
Fletcher D. Proctor who was the son of Redfield, Sr. and Emily Proctor. 
He died in 1911. He was the brother of Redfield Proctor, Jr. What we 
do know is that Redfield, Jr. hired a personal 
friend and architect, Harry Leslie Walker, to ^ 

design such a structure. It is likely that Redfield, 
Jr. acted on behalf of his mother in hiring Walker 
who as a teenager pursued various jobs in 
architectural offices, including that of Frank 
Lloyd Wright, perhaps America's most famous 
twentieth century architect. Walker went on to 
train at the Armour Institute of Technology and 
Chicago Art Institute and received his B.S. degree 
in 1900 from M.I.T. 

The bid specifications for the bridge are dated May 18 th , 1914, and 
were drawn up for Mrs. E. J. Proctor by Walker and Alexander 
Brociner, who would be the consulting engineer on the project. These 
included every aspect of construction from materials to cleanup upon 
completion of the bridge. 




The Quarterly is published by the Rutland Historical Society, 96 Center Street, Rutland VT 
05701-4023. Co-editors: Jim Davidson and Jacob Sherman, Copies are $2 each plus $1 per 
order. Membership in the Society includes a subscription to the Quarterly and the 
Newsletter. Copyright © 2008 The Rutland Historical Society, Inc. ISSN 0748-2493. 



Building the Proctor 

Marble Bridge: 

Conflict and Controversy 

By Mary Fregosi 

It is apparent that the Vermont Marble Company and the Town 
were generous in providing materials for the job and in cooperating 
with the contractor. For example, Walker noted that good, sharp 
sand and good gravel were available a half mile from the bridge and 
these, excluding transport of them to the site, were free. He added 
that the going rate for a two-horse team to haul the materials would 
be $4.00 a day. Crushed marble of various sizes and marble dust were 
also available from chutes at a stone crusher located approximately 
one half mile from the bridge and these, also, would be furnished 
without cost, exclusive of transport. Likewise, the marble ashlar and 
other marble used in the construction would be supplied as well as 
any surveying necessary without cost to the construction company. 




An 1885 view of the wooden covered bridge looking northwest. Note 
the house of Redfield Proctor, Sr. beyond the bridge. 

The contractor was to construct a three span concrete arched bridge 
"complete in every detail". He had to excavate all materials required to 



secure proper foundations for abutments and piers and had to suitably 
prepare the foundations as set forth in the drawings. He had to supply 
all materials, including a bronze tablet, and build the entire structure, 
including abutments and piers as well as cofferdams, arches, spandrel 
and retaining walls, curbs, copings, parapets, ornamental work, drain 
pipes, gutters, and electroliers. The contractor had to be prepared to do 
extra work that might be ordered by the architect for which he would 
be paid a reasonable cost plus 10%. The architect also reserved the 
right to have any "incompetent or unfit" employee of the construction 
company relieved of his duties. 

Work was to start eight days after the awarding of the contract and 
the job was to be completed on or before October 1 st , 1914. For every 
day thereafter there was a $25.00 penalty. Only the architect could 
authorize an extension time or "to prosecute it thereafter in a 
satisfactory manner at a proper rate of progress, in the opinion of the 
Superintendent (architect)" would constitute authority for the 
architect to suspend the contractor from the work and "employ other 
parties to complete it, or to employ additional labor to assist in its 
completion or to annul the contract." 




A view of the old covered bridge, looking west toward the downtown. 
Note the boathouse on the left. 



As part of the bid the contractor had to estimate the cost for moving 
the present bridge for temporary use, downstream, and for 
connecting it to the present road at both ends as well as taking 
proper care of traffic during constructions. The sum should also 
include the removal of the old wooden bridge and approaches after 
the new bridge was done and open to traffic. 

The Town of Proctor signed a contract with the B&W Concrete 
Company of Newark, New Jersey, on June 18 th , 1914. 

Two days prior to this agreement Mrs. 
Proctor had written to the selectmen 
expressing her desire to finance such a 
bridge. She wrote: "Believing that a 
permanent arch bridge of reinforced 
concrete and marble across Otter Creek 
in the Village of Proctor, in place of the 
present covered bridge, would add much 
to the safety and convenience of travel 
and the beauty of the Village, I would be 
glad to give the same to the Town of 
Proctor in memory of my son Fletcher 
Dutton Proctor." 

Both parties agreed to change the 
completion date from the 1 st day of October to the 15 th . Also written 
into the standard contract was a paragraph in which the contractor 
agreed to indemnify the Town against: all damages sustained by 
reason of any convention, article or process included in the materials 
furnished or the work done under this contract being covered or 
claimed to be covered, by patent not owned by the contractor and the 
contractor at its own expense agrees to defend any action brought 
against the Town founded upon the claim that any such article or 
process or part thereof infringes any such patent. 

This aspect of the contract would take on great importance at a 
later date and would involve numerous meetings and exchanges 
between the contractor and the Town. 

Charles F. Keife, the chief engineer, signed on behalf of the B&W 
Concrete Company and A. C. Freeborn, Charles W. Johnson, and W. 
H. Mead, signed as selectmen for the Town. The amount of the 
contract was $20,965.00. 

The Proctor family, owners of the Vermont Marble Company, also owned 
a majority of the property in the Town. In 1914 it paid 66.6% of the 
property taxes and typically all Town officers in one way or another 
were connected to the Company. A. C. Freeborn, the chairman of the 




selectmen, for example, was an engineer employed at the Vermont Marble 
Company. The lines between the Town and the Company were blurred 
at best. The Company, realizing that it would be supplying services to 
the B&W Concrete Company insisted a contract be drawn whereby the 
Town agreed to guarantee all bills owed them by the construction 
company. Included in the services were men, electric lights and power, 
supplies, machines and tools and loss or damage caused by the 
manipulation of the height of the water over the dam for the 
accommodation of the work on the bridge. This contract would be another 
source of contention between the contractor and the Town when the Town 
paid the Company by subtracting the amount from a certificate of 
payment. 

On June 30 th , 1914, as per agreement, Doremus Bensen, the 
president, and E. Z. Bensen, the secretary of the concrete company, 
signed a bond in the amount of $10,483.00 with the National Surety 
Company of New York for half of the cost of the project. 

In preparation for the new bridge the Town raised the highway 
four feet. Myron Warner, whose house was located near the site, 
received $700.00 for damages sustained during that project. The 
Town also agreed to build a driveway down into his premises at a 
later date. 




Laying the 24-foot roadbed. Note the old wooden bridge at the left. 



Everything seemed to be in place and townspeople anticipated having 
a new structure before winter set in. No one, however, could have 
predicted the events that were to dominate the attention of the 
selectmen and Vermont Marble Company officials throughout and 
beyond the construction of this marble arched bridge. 

Signs that the Town would experience problems with the B&W 
Concrete Company came as early as the 23 rci of July. Freeborn sent a 
letter to the company in which he expressed concern over the slow 
progress and requested that more men and equipment needed to be 
on the site. He asked the company what it intended to do to get the 
bridge completed on time. His wording reflected more concern than 
agitation. He also noted that the wooden bridge had been removed as 
of the 27 th of June and if one could read into that remark, he probably 
was questioning why more activity on the project had not been in 
evidence since then. 

Keife responded to Freeborn, telling him that a company 
representative had met with Redfield in New York City and had 
given him a status report on the bridge that Redfield would convey to 
the selectmen. He assured Freeborn that the Town would be 
perfectly satisfied with the work planned for the project. 

The first evidence of dissatisfaction on the part of the Town is 
expressed in a letter written to the contractor by Freeborn on August 
10 th , 1914. The message was clear this time: "the progress you are 
making on the new bridge... is entirely unsatisfactory." He went on to 
state that: "We called your attention some time ago to the slow 
progress you were making and until Mr. Walker was here there was 
apparently no attention paid to our complaint. There has been a little 
more activity shown since Mr. Walker's visit but not nearly enough to 
complete the work in your contract time." 

Freeborn noted that only the footing was in place for the east pier 
and that the west pier's foundation had not even been blasted out to 
the level required by the specifications. Further, he stated that there 
had been only an attempt to make a cofferdam in the middle of the 
stream for one of the center piers and as a result of this perceived 
lack of effort there was no progress made in getting footings in for 
either one of the piers that were to go in the center of the stream. He 
warned that there would be high water in September making it 
difficult to work in the center of the stream so it was imperative to 
take advantage of the good weather. 

Perhaps Freeborn sensed that the bridge would not be ready by the 
October 15 th deadline because he concluded the letter by stating that if 



the job was not done by then the Town would "suffer a large amount of 
annoyance and expense" which could not be overlooked. 

Chief Engineer Keife provided a prompt reply to Freeborn's 
concerns. On August 13 th he assured the selectmen that the work 
would proceed "more harmoniously". He had received reports that 
there had been friction between his men and the Town's 
representatives which, the selectmen must concede, was bound to 
delay the progress on the bridge since the Town/Company was 
furnishing several of the items that made up the structure. 

In truth there would be no harmony evident in the relations that 
developed between the Town and the B&W Concrete Company. 
According to the contract Walker was to issue certificates for 
payment and did so, issuing the first one on October 9 th for $5,940.00. 
On the 13 th of that month Wayne Dumont, legal counsel for the 
concrete company, requested the payment from the Town. 

The selectmen opted to send a check for $4,152.25 instead of the full 
amount because the Town had paid a coal bill of $201.46 to the 
Burditt Brothers, $30.00 to the Proctor Hospital, $10.00 to the 
Clarendon and Pittsford Railroad, and $1,546.29 to the Vermont 
Marble Company for a total of $1,787.75, exactly the amount they 
deducted from the authorized payment. 

President Bensen responded immediately by returning the check 
and stating that his company had not had time to review those bills 
as they had been in their possession for a short time. Further, he 
found it a strange practice that the Town assume the responsibility 
of paying his company's bills and finally, he asserted that the Town 
had not made the payment in accordance with the contract. 

The Town dug in its heels and sent back the check in yet another 
letter, the tone and message of which could not be mistaken for 
harmonious. Freeborn wrote that the concrete company had "utterly 
failed to push the work in the bridge with judgment and energy." He 
observed that Mr. Holzworth, the concrete company's 
representative, had attempted to do well despite lack of support on 
his employer's part. Freeborn claimed that the B&W Concrete 
Company had not provided sufficient equipment or material and if it 
had not been for what the Vermont Marble Company had furnished 
there would have been even less progress made on the project. 

Back came a reply from Bensen in which the check was once again 
returned to the Town and a request made for the Town to comply 
with the architect's certificate of payment in the amount of $5,940.00. 

What would be the next move on the part of the Town? Benjamin 
Williams was an attorney and an employee of the Vermont Marble 



Company and he decided to get a legal opinion from Edwin Lawrence 
of Lawrence, Lawrence, and Stafford, a Rutland-based firm. He wanted 
to make sure that the Town had a legal right in dealing with the 
matter as it had been doing. He also told Lawrence that the Town was 
inclined to do nothing further and to wait for the concrete company to 
communicate once again with the board of selectmen. 

Williams relayed Lawrence's opinion in a memo to Freeborn. 
Lawrence believed that the Town had no legal right to withhold the 
money but he suggested that the selectmen send the check once 
again with the following response: "Your letter of October 26 th 
received. We think the Town of Proctor has taken the fair and just 
attitude towards you and has nothing further to state than has 
already been written." So on November 2 nd , in compliance with the 
legal opinion they received, the selectmen sent the check to the New 
Jersey firm for a third time. 

Two days later Bensen acknowledged receipt of the letter and sent 
the check back to the selectmen, indicating in his letter that he was 
unable to accept it. 




This photograph suggests that little activity was taking place in the 
construction of the new marble bridge. 

This exchange could not go on indefinitely and given Lawrence's opinion, 
the selectmen wrote Bensen indicating that it seemed that it was not 
necessary to have any misunderstanding between the two parties so they 
were sending the original check ($4,152.25) along with a second check in 



the amount of $1,586.29, the two together meeting the amount of Walker's 
certificate less only the bill of the Burditt Brothers for the payment of 
which the B&W Concrete Company had given them an order to pay. It is 
assumed that the selectmen penned the letter with the aid of the Vermont 
Marble Company lawyer, Benjamin Williams, because in closing they 
wrote that the board assumed that Bensen's company would "promptly 
settle with the Vermont Marble Company for their bills." The selectmen 
were obviously not acting independently of the VMCO. 

The Town and the Vermont Marble Company clearly were not 
pleased with the relationship that existed between them and the 
New Jersey company. For one thing, the Town not only wanted to 
make sure that Bensen's company paid all bills due to the Vermont 
Marble Company but kept track of payment it owed other businesses 
as well. On November 14 th the Burditt Brothers forwarded a memo 
to Freeborn indicating that the B&W Concrete Company had paid 
their bills up to about the first of the month and at present owed 
them about $50.00. 

It was late November and the bridge was far from complete, the 
relationship far from harmonious, and the Town and the Vermont 
Marble Company far from satisfied with the progress. They had the 
card in their hands that could make the B&W Concrete Company go 
away and they decided to press the only person authorized to make 
that happen. Under contract Walker could annul the agreement with 
sufficient cause and that is exactly what he did. On November 24th, 
1914, the selectmen sent a telegram to Bensen that read: 

"I, Harry Leslie Walker, named as Architect... hereby certify that 
the B&W Concrete Company has refused and neglected and does 
refuse and neglect to supply a sufficiency of properly skilled 
workmen and materials of proper quality, and has failed and does fail 
to prosecute the work provided for in said contract with promptness 
and diligence and has other wise failed and does other wise fail in the 
performance of said contract, and I further certify that such refusal, 
neglect and failure is sufficient grounds for said Town of Proctor to 
terminate the employment of the B&W Concrete Company for the 
said work covered by said contract and to enter upon the premises 
and take possession for the purpose of completing the work included 
under said contract of all materials, tools and appliances thereon and 
to employ any other person or persons to finish the work to provide 
the materials thereafter." 

The selectmen were giving notice that they were terminating the 
employment of the B&W Concrete Company on November 24 th under 
the rights reserved in the contract. The relationship was severed but 



10 



there would ensue months of negotiations before each was ready to 
consider a written release, thus bringing to an end further claims or 
damages. 

That same day Walker sent a copy of a telegram from the B&W 
Concrete Company in reply to the telegram it had received from the 
Town. He also informed the selectmen that he had instructed both 
the clerk of the works, H. E. Anderson of the Vermont Marble 
Company, and the contractor's superintendent, T. E. Holzworth, to 
make an inventory of tools and appliances and material on hand. 

Bensen's company telegrammed Freeborn on the 24 th : 'Tour action 
unwarranted. Architect orders contrary to Engineers. Legal action 
by us will follow." 

Walker also sent a letter to his friend, Redfield, informing him that 
Keife had been in to his Park Avenue office to see him and made a 
"strenuous protest" against the action the Town had taken. Walker 
told Redfield that H.E. Anderson had written him, telling him that 
he had taken all reports and drawings that belonged to him to his 
home. He then stipulated that Anderson should be kept on the job no 
matter how or by whom the project might be carried on. With that in 
mind, he enclosed two copies of a set of directions that he had 
Brociner make for the concreting of the arches. 

Freeborn sent a night letter-gram to the B&W Concrete Company 
on November 27 th inquiring as to whether there were barrels of 
cement in transit because the Town needed several hundred barrels 
to complete the bridge contract. He asked the concrete company to 
order one car shipped to Proctor at once. If they didn't hear from the 
company by noon of the following day Freeborn said he would have to 
order enough to complete the project at prices he would be obliged to 
pay. Again, another telegram questioned if the B&W Concrete 
Company had any contracts for materials or labor which "you wish us 
to utilize?" 

Doremus Bensen's telegram on the following day was brief and to 
the point: "I am on my way to Proctor. Nothing is to be done until I 
arrive." 

It is not known how the meeting went with Bensen and Town and 
Company officials. What we do know is that Walker penned a letter 
to Freeborn stating that he was very glad indeed to know that the 
work had progressed so well, since it was taken over by the Town." 
He had been receiving daily reports from Anderson and it was his 
perception that everything seemed to be going very well, considering 
the conditions. 



11 



there would ensue months of negotiations before each was ready to 
consider a written release, thus bringing to an end further claims or 
damages. 

That same day Walker sent a copy of a telegram from the B&W 
Concrete Company in reply to the telegram it had received from the 
Town. He also informed the selectmen that he had instructed both 
the clerk of the works, H. E. Anderson of the Vermont Marble 
Company, and the contractor's superintendent, T. E. Holzworth, to 
make an inventory of tools and appliances and material on hand. 

Bensen's company telegrammed Freeborn on the 24 th : "Your action 
unwarranted. Architect orders contrary to Engineers. Legal action 
by us will follow." 

Walker also sent a letter to his friend, Redfield, informing him that 
Keife had been in to his Park Avenue office to see him and made a 
"strenuous protest" against the action the Town had taken. Walker 
told Redfield that H.E. Anderson had written him, telling him that 
he had taken all reports and drawings that belonged to him to his 
home. He then stipulated that Anderson should be kept on the job no 
matter how or by whom the project might be carried on. With that in 
mind, he enclosed two copies of a set of directions that he had 
Brociner make for the concreting of the arches. 

Freeborn sent a night letter-gram to the B&W Concrete Company 
on November 27 th inquiring as to whether there were barrels of 
cement in transit because the Town needed several hundred barrels 
to complete the bridge contract. He asked the concrete company to 
order one car shipped to Proctor at once. If they didn't hear from the 
company by noon of the following day Freeborn said he would have to 
order enough to complete the project at prices he would be obliged to 
pay. Again, another telegram questioned if the B&W Concrete 
Company had any contracts for materials or labor which "you wish us 
to utilize?" 

Doremus Bensen's telegram on the following day was brief and to 
the point: "I am on my way to Proctor. Nothing is to be done until I 
arrive." 

It is not known how the meeting went with Bensen and Town and 
Company officials. What we do know is that Walker penned a letter 
to Freeborn stating that he was very glad indeed to know that the 
work had progressed so well, since it was taken over by the Town." 
He had been receiving daily reports from Anderson and it was his 
perception that everything seemed to be going very well, considering 
the conditions. 



11 




The date of December 16 th of 1914 confirms that this photograph was 

taken after the Town had taken over the bridge project. Obvious 

progress in the bridge construction can be seen. 

The daily reports on the construction of the bridge were found when 
the author did some archival work at the Town Clerk's office during 
the winter of 2007. Anderson's reports begin on November 27 th , 1914, 
shortly after the Town took over the work and conclude on February 
5 th , 1915. In them he meticulously details the work done on each day, 
the materials used, the labor required, the costs of each, and the 
temperatures at various times of the day. 

When things seem too good to be true they usually are and this was 
just the case in this regard. On the same day Walker sent the above to 
Freeborn he received a report from Brociner, Walker's consulting 
engineer, which indicated there were some serious issues on the 
bridge project. Brociner had done a site inspection with H. W. Lang 
who had been hired to act as consulting engineer in place of Keife. 
Lang had been "on loan" from Callanan & Prescott, a Keeseville, New 
York, construction company. Lang took up residence at the Proctor 
Inn and Livery and remained there for 46 days according to the bill 
made out by the innkeeper, N. B. Ladabouche. 

Brociner stated that the project leaders had failed to follow his 
explicit and often repeated directions on the construction of an arch 
and thus had compromised the elastic theory of arches. He went on to 



12 



report that it was difficult for him to know to what extent the arch had 
been weakened by the displacement of the reinforcements and it was 
even more difficult to determine what other displacement of the 
reinforcements had been caused during the concreting of the other 
sections of the arch. He felt the only thing to do was to complete the 
arch and have it tested after the centers were taken out. Another 
concern he had was that during the concreting of a section (No. 3) he 
noticed that the mortar had been prepared in back of the Library 
with cold materials and that it was later carried to the bridge and 
placed in position quite some time before regular concrete was put in 
place. That having occurred, he said he would not be surprised if the 
mortar facing was frozen stiff. He questioned whether the mortar 
facing would stick to the arch during warm weather or when the 
water rose to a higher level. 

Walker wrote Freeborn, enclosing a copy of Brociner's report and 
impressing on him that Brociner's concerns were exceedingly 
important so he would appreciate it if Freeborn could use every 
effort to convince the men in charge of the work of the absolute 
necessity of adhering to the drawings and specifications. 

At this time Walker also wrote to Anderson in response to a report 
Anderson had sent him. The architect noted that considerable 
adjustment had been necessary for the molding forms in connection 
with the bridge and advised him to be very careful that these forms 
were absolutely level or in line and were rigidly held there while the 
concrete was poured. If these should move after completion or if the 
moldings were uneven, cracked, or out of line in any way, the result, 
in Walker's opinion, would be "exceedingly displeasing." 

On the 12 th of December Freeborn replied to Walker's letter and 
specifically, to Brociner's report. While one cannot know Freeborn's 
reaction to Brociner's criticisms it is apparent that he took some of 
the comments personally. It is evident that Freeborn had invested 
and continued to invest a great deal of time on the project and 
desired to correct any impression that the work on the bridge was 
proceeding without due diligence to specifications and drawings. 
Quotes from this letter, though lengthy, speak for themselves. 

"Since taking charge of the work it has been my intention and endeavor 
to carry on the work just as though I was the B&W Concrete Company 
and I have instructed every one having anything to do with the job and 
have tried myself to follow up all the instructions which we have and the 
plans and specifications carefully. ...I believe Mr. Brociner is a little 
severe in his criticism of the way the work has progressed. I am sure, if I 
understand the first criticism, the anchoring of the retaining walls is 



13 



just as it is shown on your plans just as near as we could build it. On the 
last arch, a portion of which was put in when Mr. Brociner was here, 
there was some displacement of the reinforcing. It was an oversight that 
the reinforcing was not properly propped in position before any of the 
arch was poured. As to the handling of the mortar for the facing of the 
arches- there has been very little of this mixed ahead of the time of using 
it, only a few pails full... I am positive none of this was frozen before it 
was placed. It is all backed up by a heavy bed of hot concrete. The whole 
bridge up above the arches and the facing has been enclosed and heated 
with steam underneath. . . . The heat underneath the arches has kept them 
up so that even to-day with the temperature down to about twelve above 
zero the top of the arches is warm to the touch.... I don't think there is 
any question in your mind but that I have at heart the interest of the 
community and do not intend to have any of this work neglected or 
imperfectly done. We all want this bridge to be first class when it is 
completed and I intend to see that your wishes are carried out just so far 
as I am able to do so." 

By the 16 th of December the men were ready to fill the bridge as soon 
as the waterproofing was done. Walker informed Freeborn that the 
forms on the spandrel walls should not be removed for six days or more 
after the concrete had been poured. He said Anderson was going to 
send the correct location of all the trees, walks, buildings, and walls so 
he could make a study of the surrounding conditions in connection with 
the approaches. 

Meanwhile the B&W Concrete Company's legal counsel, Wayne 
Dumont, wrote to the selectmen referring to a meeting between 
Bensen and Dumont and Redfield, Frank Partridge, the president of 
the Vermont Marble Company, and Freeborn. In this letter he stated 
that his clients still maintained their rights under the contract and 
that the Town took forcible possession of the bridge and were 
charging up as against the contract and against the balance due the 
B&W Concrete Company the work that the Town now claimed it was 
doing. He further stated that it was agreed at the meeting that both 
parties wanted to avoid litigation but that that would occur if his 
clients did not have their rights under the contract fully respected. 
Holzworth, the concrete company's employee, would remain at the 
site to provide assistance and also to monitor the progress being 
made for the concrete company. He felt that it was time to reach a 
conclusion in this matter and agree on a settlement that would be 
fair to both parties. 



14 




Two photographs of the work on the bridge were taken on the 16 th of 
December 1914. Progress is evident but so is the complexity of the job. 




15 



Freeborn's reply on December 17 th indicated that the arches had been 
poured since Dumont was in Proctor but that the project had not progressed 
to where he felt the respective claims could be considered and a settlement 
reached. He was, however, open to starting discussions at anytime. 

Just before Christmas Freeborn wrote to Walker telling him that the 
Town had met with representatives of the concrete company and he 
hoped to come to an agreement. In preparation for future talks with 
Dumont he had Lang and Anderson go over the work on the bridge and 
estimate the amount of material and quantity of work that was yet to 
be performed under the contract. He requested that Brociner could 
assist the Town by going over this as well and providing his estimate. 
Attention should be paid to the amount of concrete needed to finish the 
bridge, the necessary filling work to finish the roadway and gutters, 
and the work required to clean out the creek channel, to strip the 
forms, and take out the centers. 

The day after Christmas Walker wrote to Freeborn stating that he 
and Brociner had worked on an estimate as per his request, although 
it had been extremely difficult to do so. He cautioned Freeborn that 
the east pier had cost extra and he told him to be careful not to 
present that figure to the contractor before they submitted their 
claim for the extra work because they would make it as large as they 
possibly could and negotiate from there. He and Brociner felt that 
the cost to complete the bridge as per all items in the contract would 
be $3,258.00. 

The time had now come to settle. Dumont wrote on December 29 th 
that he and representatives from the concrete company would be in 
Proctor on January 4, 1915, at 8:00 a.m. Things did not go well at this 
meeting and the parties were not able to reach an agreement. Bensen 
wrote a short note to Freeborn on Hotel Berwick stationery on the 
same day indicating that he felt entitled to a payment on account, the 
amount of which he would leave for the Town to decide. 

The following day Redfield wrote to Walker to apprise him of how 
negotiations had gone. The Town offered to pay the concrete 
company $10,000.00 but the B&W Concrete Company dismissed the 
offer, indicating that it wanted $23,000.00. Later it offered to accept 
$19,000.00. Since the contractor was going to furnish the bronze 
tablet, the Town raised their offer to $11,000.00. Redfield requested 
that Walker come to Proctor and speak with Edwin Lawrence since 
the B&W Concrete Company, he felt, "showed no inclination to 
compromise." Redfield also expressed concern that Brociner was 
"pretty sensitive" and that Keife and Bensen were "quite unsparing 
in their criticisms of him (Brociner)." He wrote that he was a bit fearful 



16 



that they might irritate Brociner and get him to make statements that 
he should not make and finished by saying that Walker should make 
certain that Brociner give nothing in writing to the B&W Concrete 
Company. 

Redfield's letter got a prompt reply from Walker and assurances 
that Brociner would not appear in the settlement except through 
him and only if it was absolutely necessary. 

On January 19 th , 1915, Walker informed Freeborn that he had met 
with Bensen and Keife and wanted to come to Proctor to meet when 
Redfield could be present. The following day Freeborn informed 
Walker that the new bridge was in use and that the wooden structure 
was being torn down. As for Redfield, he had spoken with him and he 
was busy in Montpelier (Redfield was serving in the House at this 
time.) but could meet on a Monday morning, although Redfield 
suggested that Walker meet with Freeborn and Mr. Thompson (A.Z. 
Thompson) as he didn't feel he could help the situation. 







r 



MriUA.R v tR WB 




This January 15 th photograph shows the new bridge in use. 

When Keife discovered that Walker was coming to Proctor to meet 
with Town and Company officials he wrote Freeborn stating that it 
would be "advisable" for representatives to be in Proctor at the same 
time because the concrete company insisted on settling the account 
"in the immediate future." Concluding the letter, he phrased the 



17 



sentiment more strongly: 'While we prefer an amicable settlement, 
without sacrificing anything that we feel is justly due us, if such is 
not possible, we are desirous of knowing it at once so we may proceed 
to collect the amount of our statement by other means." 

With the new bridge in operation there was no longer any need for 
the services of H. W. Lang. Frank C. Partridge sent a letter to 
Callanan & Prescott thanking the company for allowing Lang to come 
to Proctor and oversee the completion of the bridge in which he 
indicated that: "Mr. Lang certainly knows his business and under his 
direction, we were able to complete the concreting of the bridge so 
that we are now using it." 

In late spring of 1914 H. L. Sherman had sent a letter to Redfield in 
which he requested that his company, the newly organized New 
England Bureau of Tests, be given the job of making the tests of 
cement and aggregates as well as the inspection of reinforcing bars 
on the new bridge. He asked Redfield to assist him in getting this 
assignment because he knew that Walker was a close friend. 
Sherman's company got the job and performed 30 tests throughout 
the project, the last reported being dated January 6 th , 1915. 

The Town had completed the bridge but the negotiations between 
the concrete company and the Town were far from over. One of the 
issues that needed attention was determining the cost of the extra 
pier. Redfield advised Freeborn to arrange for an engineer to come to 
Proctor to provide an estimate. The H. P. Cummings Construction 
Company of Ware, Massachusetts, sent Henry T. Rowe to provide a 
cost for the additional work. In a letter to Freeborn Rowe noted that 
it was not the customary practice for his company to give such 
estimates on work done by its competitors but due to the fine 
relationship with the Vermont Marble Company on work completed 
in the past, Rowe felt justified in making an exception in this case. He 
thought that $2,200.00 would be a liberal amount for the work. This 
amount included the contractor's profit as well as the use of tools, 
machinery and overhead expenses, if done by skilled mechanics in 
this class of work, providing there had been no high water. 

The daunting task of determining the validity and cost of each 
claim brought by the B&W Concrete Company fell to Walker. He 
wrote to Freeborn in mid-February informing him that he had 
worked continuously on the matter for several days, giving it a great 
deal of study and thought while trying to keep in mind the rights of 
the contractors as well as those of the owners in order to arrive at a 
decision that was fair. He rejected several claims, many for the 



IS 



reason that he did not consider them to be extra. On other claims he 
allowed 28/46ths of the claim based on the following reasoning: 

"Owing to evident lack of proper organization and equipment and 
lack of evident desire to push the work in a proper manner to an 
early completion I considered that the actual cost of and time 
consumed in executing the necessary extra work on the east pier 
foundation was much greater than it would have been if the 
contractors had maintained a good organization, proper equipment 
and had used due diligence in the conduct of the work during the 
period of the contract before it was found that this extra work on the 
east pier foundation would be necessary." 

In his opinion the cofferdam that was originally erected by the 
contractors for the east pier was not built properly and was not 
sufficiently substantial to take care of the work as originally 
planned. Consequently the cost of reinforcing and rebuilding this 
cofferdam to take care of the extra foundation in connection with the 
east pier was much greater than it otherwise would have been had 
the cofferdam been built properly. 

Walker also concluded that the work the Town was doing on the 
bridge after they took away the contract was much more expensive 
than it would have been had it been done earlier in the fall under 
significantly better weather conditions. He understood that it had 
actually taken 46 days to build the extra foundation of the east pier 
up to a point approximately eight feet above the level of the bottom of 
the foundation. In his professional opinion it would have taken 28 
days to build such a structure under more suitable working conditions. 
In determining the extra cost, he therefore allowed 28/46 of the amount 
claimed by the contractors. In concluding, he stated that he had based 
his conclusions on arguments that were unassailable. The two biggest 
costs claimed by the B&W Concrete Company were for the 
construction of the extra pier in the amount of $6,844.89 and for labor 
at $3,513.00. The total claims amounted to $8,999.22. Walker allowed 
$5,516.43 and disallowed $3,482.79. 

To figure out how much was owed the B&W Concrete Company he 
used the original contract price of $20,965.00 and added on the 
allowable extra cost of $5,516.43 that totaled $26,481.43. Then he 
subtracted the following from that figure: the amount of the 
architect's certificate of $5,940.00, the 78 days of penalty at $25.00 
which totaled $1,950.00, the expenses that the Town spent from 
November 24 th until January 15 th which added up to $5,170.12, and 
the estimated cost of completing the contractor's work which totaled 



19 



$1,775.00. These deductions totaled $14,835.12 and when subtracted 
from $26,481.43 left the balance due to the contractor in the amount 
of$ll,646.31. 

Negotiations were interrupted in early February due to the death 
of Redfield's mother, Emily. Then Dumont requested that a meeting 
scheduled for the end of February be postponed. The Town was 
amenable to this request because Freeborn was ill, under doctor's 
care, and was confined to his home for at least a week or more. It 
would not be until the 20th of March before both parties were able to 
meet. 




- 





A close up photograph of the arch construction. 

Between early February and the middle of March work proceeded on 
the approaches to the bridge. Freeborn wrote Walker that they were 
moving the stone ledge near the new store (what would be Eckley's 
store) and wanted to use the rock for fill at the new bridge approaches 
but they couldn't do that until they had a definite set of plans from 
which to work. He therefore asked for sketches for the approaches, per 
Redfield's advice. Walker replied to Freeborn's request for sketches by 
indicating that he needed to come to Proctor and work on the sketches 
with Freeborn right at the site. He felt that the best solution from an 
artistic and practical standpoint was to build simple retaining walls 
out of marble blocks along the sides of the sidewalk from the bridge to 



20 



the Library, from the bridge around and past the boathouse, from the 
bridge around and down into Mrs. Proctor's lane, along the front of 
Mrs. Proctor's property and around, down, along the west side of Mrs. 
Proctor's lane, and then on the south side of the main road from the 
bridge up to the small bridge over the tracks. He did not want to cut 
down any trees and wherever a tree came in the sidewalk he suggested 
that a well should be built around it with a pipe railing to keep people 
from falling in the hole. 

The March meeting between the two parties brought no settlement 
and if anything, resulted in some hard feelings on the part of 
Dumont. It would appear that Dumont was also frustrated with 
Freeborn. In a letter to Partridge he stated that he had journeyed to 
Proctor "at great personal inconvenience". He regretted that 
Freeborn's treatment of the issues being discussed were not as 
important as Dumont perceived them to be and was extremely 
irritated. He had presented a proposition for the Town's 
consideration that morning but it had taken Freeborn at least two 
and a half hours to call Partridge into the meeting room to consider 
the offer. At that point Partridge had only 20 minutes to devote to the 
meeting as he was scheduled to board a train shortly after entering 
the negotiations. Dumont said, "I went away from that conference in 
a decidedly different frame of mind than that with which I 
approached it." As for Freeborn, Dumont said that they could never 
agree because Freeborn did not speak for himself but simply acted as 
an agent for others and could not serve the Vermont Marble 
Company and the Town of Proctor with fairness to both sides. 

Much irritated and exasperated by the treatment accorded him at 
that meeting he opined that most of the people he dealt with in 
Proctor appeared indifferent to the matter. That being so, he felt 
there was no alternative but to settle the matter in the U.S. District 
Court of Vermont. That would mean considerable expense and 
trouble for both sides but he felt that it would not mean any more 
expense or inconvenience than the cost of the many trips he and his 
clients had made to Vermont without any results. Then he unloaded 
all the vitriol he had been storing up since the meeting. "I went to 
Proctor and made a definite proposition. It was not met by any 
counter-proposition of any kind whatsoever. In plain English, Mr. 
Freeborn's decision for me was to 'take what I give you, or go home' ". 
He made it very clear that he no longer wanted to deal with Freeborn 
and proposed that he meet one more time, but this time with 
Redfield, Partridge, and Walker. If Partridge believed that his 
remarks were written in a "state of pique", he assured him that was 
not the case. 

2! 




Cleanup of the wood used in forms was a major task. 

Partridge's letter to Dumont must have crossed in the mail with 
Dumont's. Partridge expressed regret that he had to leave the 
meeting but said that based on information from Freeborn, his 
presence would not have altered the result. He said he was writing 
"because as a personal matter between us I do not want you to think 
that I was indifferent to the long trip you had made or the 
importance of the matter at issue." Partridge had read the situation 
correctly, for all the good that did. 

While these negotiations for a settlement were transpiring a 
registered letter from Edwin Thacher was sent in mid-March to 
Emily Proctor, notifying her that she had infringed on his U. S. 
patent No. 617,615. He informed her that he had given his power of 
attorney to George A. Bacon of Springfield, Massachusetts, with 
authority to act in his name in the collection of royalties to which he 
was legally entitled. Thacher said he wished to settle the case 
amicably without going to court but he had given his attorney 
authority to take that step in order to best protect his rights. Mrs. 
Proctor was dead so her son, Redfield, was left to respond to this 
allegation. 



22 



One can only imagine Freeborn's reaction when he was told the latest 
news in regard to the bridge. He immediately sent a copy of the 
Thacher letter to the B&W Concrete Company and requested any 
information the company might have in this regard. Freeborn also 
reminded the company that according to the contract it was up to 
them to protect the Town in regard to infringements. He also wrote 
Bacon, informing him that the bridge was built by the B&W Concrete 
Company and there was a provision in the contract that protected 
the town against all patents. He said, "I know nothing as to whether 
our construction was the same or similar to that involved in the 
Baltimore suit, nor do I understand the merits of the claim which you 
make. If your contention is correct, what is the amount of your 
claim?" 

Partridge penned a letter to Attorney Bacon on April 3 rd , 1915, 
informing him that Mrs. Proctor had only contributed money to the 
Town for a new bridge but had nothing to do with the construction of 
the bridge. He suggested that the matter be taken up with the B&W 
Concrete Company. 

Partridge may have referred the attorney to the concrete company 
but intrinsically he realized that the issue was far from solved. On 
April 8 th he sent a memo to Redfield, Freeborn, and Attorney 
Lawrence in which he stated that: "the claim for infringement of 
patent in connection with construction of the new bridge has become 
serious." A U.S. District Court in the State of Maryland in an action 
against the City of Baltimore had found in favor of Thacher in a case 
that he said was similar to the construction completed in Proctor. 
The Mayor and the City of Baltimore were found to have infringed on 
the rights of Thacher by building the Fallsway Viaduct and the court 
had found for the plaintiff in the amount of $5,000.00. He strongly 
alerted them to keep this case in mind when determining a 
settlement with the concrete company since it was absolutely 
essential to make sure that the Town was left with protection against 
any infringement right that might be brought against it. 

Bacon's letter of April 15 th clearly outlined his client's position. He 
asserted that there definitely had been an infringement in the 
construction of the arches and that infringement continued by virtue 
of the Town's ownership of the bridge. He further stated that the 
Town could seek indemnity against the B&W Concrete Company but 
that was not his issue. Putting it even more frankly he said, "...it is 
immaterial to us who is the ultimate loser." Bacon informed 
Freeborn that he was making settlements on the basis of three and a 
half percent of the construction cost if these were done without 
litigation. Where Bacon had to pursue the matter in court his client 

23 



was being awarded 5%. In closing, he noted that he had been informed 
that the bridge had cost in the neighborhood of $25,000.00 and advised 
Freeborn to give the matter his prompt attention. 

Freeborn did not pen a quick response to Bacon. He wrote a letter 
some two weeks later informing Bacon that the Town had not 
reached a final settlement with the B&W Concrete Company and 
when it did so it would take up with them the subject of his 
infringement claim. 

Partridge sent a memo to Redfield on May 1 st , 1915, indicating that 
Bacon would accept $625.00 to settle the claim so he needed to keep 
this in mind during negotiations with the concrete company. He 
stated, "Will not be satisfactory for us to pay them in full and trust 
them to protect us or to try to get any satisfaction out of their bond." 

By mid-May the Town and the concrete company were getting 
closer to accepting a settlement that would be agreeable to both 
parties. Dumont wrote to Redfield on May 15 th stating it was his 
understanding that the Town would pay the $3,000.00 it owed the 
Vermont Marble Company out of the moneys due the B&W Concrete 
Company but in no case was it to receive less than $11,800.00. It was 
also to be understood that the Town was to finish the bridge and pay 
any disbursements since it took it over. If that was agreeable, 
Dumont said that his client would give the Town full release of any 
and all claims of any kind. 

Redfield's response to Dumont's on May 18 th was explicit. He accepted 
the proposition with the following conditions: 1. the sum to be paid 
was full and final payment under the contract, 2. the payment covered 
all extra work and materials not included in the original contract and 
all claims against the Town for having taken the work over and for any 
other reason whatsoever, 3. the Town waive any and all claims against 
the concrete company for any delay in the contract, 4. the concrete 
company would settle the claim of Edwin Thacher for infringement and 
produce a proper release and in default of the company doing this the 
Town would withhold out of $11,800.00 an "amount sufficient in the 
opinion of the Town to fully indemnify itself against said claim and 
threatened litigation", 5. the settlement would not relieve the concrete 
company from indemnifying and saving harmless the Town against all 
damages by reason of any infringement of a patent as per the contract, 
and 6. the concrete company would indemnify and save harmless the 
Town against all claims that might be made on account of material 
furnished or labor done on the bridge before the work was taken over 
by the Town excepting the claims of the Vermont Marble Company 
and also on account of damages resulting from acts or neglects of 
response informed Redfield that the form of the bond was ok and that 

24 



employees and agents of the concrete company prior to the time the 
work was taken over. 

On June 9 th , Dumont responded to Redfield's letter and indicated 
that he agreed to the conditions laid out in #1, #2, #3, and in #6 but 
that #4 and #5 were not acceptable. He strongly opposed the idea of 
the Town setting aside a certain amount of the settlement and 
informed Redfield that his client would indemnify the Town against 
any and all claims for damages that might arise in that regard but he 
refused "under any circumstances to permit the Town of Proctor to 
handle our business." He said that his client would put up a surety 
bond indemnifying the Town against any and all claims of violation of 
the Thacher patent. He was upset that the Town now wanted to 
settle the claim and he clearly stated that it was none of the Town's 
business. Further he told Redfield that the Town's position in this 
regard had not been brought up during a recent meeting he had had 
with him in New York. 

He had had enough. He emptied both barrels into Redfield: 
"Something new is always inserted after an agreement has been 
reached. Now, in all frankness, you are not dealing with that kind of 
man. When I gave you my word as to what I would advise, I intended 
and still do intend to keep it, but I cannot have anything inserted in 
that agreement which was not discussed even at the time we made 
the agreement...." His final salvo was even more powerful: Agree to 
what we agreed on or "the litigation which we do not court, but of 
which we are not afraid, will have to take place." 

Partridge responded upon receipt of Dumont's letter to inform him 
that Redfield had gone to Texas on a ten-day trip and had left a memo 
indicating that he had not had time to give the letter proper 
attention. Partridge indicated that he would be happy to do what he 
could to settle the matter. He also said that he felt that Dumont had 
taken "undue umbrage at Mr. Proctor's letter of May 18 th ." Then he 
got to the heart of the issue. He explained that the Town should not 
be left with a threatened patent suit with the only assurance against 
it a surety bond. He went on to say that the Vermont Marble 
Company had to bring 15 lawsuits in the previous three years in 
order to get surety companies to perform their bonds. He asked that 
Dumont dispose of the Thacher claim concurrently with the 
settlement even though he admitted that "there is an element of 
unfairness in insisting that it must be done". If it could not be done at 
that time could Dumont propose another method than a surety bond? 
Absent any other way, the Town would take a bond if the amount and 
form were acceptable. 



25 



Dumont's reply to Partridge revealed that he had "felt a little hurt" 
at Redfield's remarks because there were things in the letter that 
had not been discussed. He said that the B&W Concrete Company 
might give the Town a bond of its own without a surety company bond 
if the Town wished it. He asked that Partridge inform him of the 
amount and the form of the bond for his consideration. 

Partridge's response included a suggestion that a bond in the 
amount of $3,000.00 would be acceptable and he also enclosed a draft 
of a form. As for the National Surety Company, the agency used for 
the bond on the bridge, he found that it was unsatisfactory as the 
Vermont Marble Company had brought three suits against this firm. 
Instead, he listed several companies that would be acceptable. 

On July 20 th Dumont wrote to Partridge. He had no objection to the 
proposed form of the bond but felt that $1,000.00 was an adequate 
sum. As for the National Surety Company, Dumont noted that it had 
a very good reputation in his section of the country and that the B&W 
Concrete Company could get a bond signed "in two minutes" from 
them. To deal with another surety company would involve 
establishing security and undergoing a thorough check of the 
concrete company by the prospective bond company. Not wishing to 
undergo this process, the board of directors of the B&W Concrete 
Company, after a long discussion, insisted on using the National 
Surety Company. 

Prior to leaving on a two to three week trip to New Brunswick, 
Partridge informed Dumont that the Town would accept a bond for 
$2,000.00 with the National Surety Company. 

On the last day in July Dumont wrote Redfleld in regard to the 
Thacher claim. At the bottom of the letter he wrote in his own hand 
that his remarks were intended as private correspondence and 
asked that the letter not be incorporated in the Town records 
because he was personally giving him information from reliable 
sources. The letter, however, is included among the correspondence 
and it is apparent when one reads the letter why Dumont made his 
request. Dumont wrote, "I don't regard the Thatcher (sic) claim as 
anything else than a claim of blackmail, and I might as well be very 
frank about it. They threaten everybody, and then take what money 
they can get under their threats. I am not so easily scared." 

In mid-August it appeared that the protracted discussions regarding 
a settlement were coming to a close. Redfield wrote Dumont saying 
that Partridge was back in Town and counter-offered to accept a 
$1,500.00 bond provided that the B&W Concrete Company give the 
Town unlimited protection against any patent litigation. Dumont's 



26 



response informed Redfield that the form of the bond was ok and that 
he would forward the bond to him. Upon receipt of that he expected the 
Town to send a check for $11,800.00 and requested a receipted bill from 
the Vermont Marble Company of all claims against his client as well as 
a release by the Town of all claims of any kind whatsoever under the 
contract. Redfield replied, indicating that all the suggestions in 
Dumont's letter were satisfactory but again he wanted an 
understanding between them that the B&W Concrete Company would 
provide unlimited protection for the Town against any patent 
litigation. That being agreed to, the Town would release the concrete 
company from the contract with the exception of Article IX. Which 
dealt with patent infringements. 

Attorney Lawrence drafted a mutual release that needed to be signed 
in duplicate originals. Once the B&W Concrete Company signed the 
release Partridge asked them to send it and the bond of indemnity to 
the Proctor Trust Company with directions to deliver it to the Town 
upon the Town's executing and delivering to the bank for the B&W 
Concrete Company an original copy of the release executed on the part 
of the Town, a receipt in full from the Vermont Marble Company, and a 
check for $11,800.00. It may have come as no surprise to Dumont to be 
informed that Partridge was the president of the bank and that 
Redfield was the vice-president. Informing him of such, Partridge gave 
him an alternative bank, the Rutland County National Bank in 
Rutland from which to execute the terms of the agreement if he so 
desired. 

By mid-October each party had complied with the agreement. The 
Town had received a signed mutual release form and a bond for 
$1,500.00 from the B&W Concrete Company and having received 
these two items, delivered to the New Jersey company a draft in the 
specified amount and a receipt in full from the Vermont Marble 
Company. 

It had taken months of meetings and correspondence, as well as 
compromise, but it was finally over. The issues had been solved to the 
satisfaction of both parties. The Town had a new bridge and one 
whose image defines the Town. It wears a beauty during each season 
of the year. Its setting is indisputably one of the most picturesque in 
Vermont. Those who visit Proctor for the first time often take with 
them an image of this simple, graceful structure and those who have 
the pleasure of seeing and crossing each day never seem to tire of its 
charm. 

The story cannot end without acknowledging the men who built the 
bridge, who endured the temperatures of the late fall and winter of 
1914-1915. Only two workers were hurt seriously enough to require 

27 



hospitalization. Charles Holland, an employee of the B&W Concrete 
Company spent two weeks at the Proctor Hospital recovering from an 
accident, and Andrew Mooney, a Vermont Marble Company employee, 
broke his leg on the job. Those Vermont Marble Company workers, 
many of whom were immigrants, labored for as little as 15 cents an 
hour while others garnered 30 cents for their hourly wage. Steve Biro, 
for example, worked 12 hours for $1.88 while G. Mclntire earned $7.25 
for his 29 hours of labor. Carl Nicholson earned $16.50 for 55 hours of 
work on the bridge. Their names reflect the diverse population of 
Proctor at this time: Tatarinowicz, Szurs, Gallipo, Erickson, Kisaw, 
Stanley, Kiss and Kaleschinski. The pictures during its construction 
phase reveal the weathered faces of these unidentified workers who 
were instrumental in creating this memorial that was given in memory 
by a mother for her son. In another sense, since the construction project 
was taken over by the Vermont Marble Company and the Town it 
became a memorial to all those workers, skilled as well as unskilled, 
who brought the project to completion. 




Cleanup and finishing touches were all that was left now. The conflict 

and long controversy was finally over. A bridge begun as a personal 

memorial has become a face of the Town of Proctor.